Centres of Excellence under the Spotlight

Centres of Excellence under the Spotlight
Learners explored the science exhibitions on show at the Centres of Excellence Director’s Forum at the Howard College campus.


Since 2004, Centres of Excellence at UKZN have pioneered research in areas of national importance, ranging from HIV and AIDS to biodiversity conservation. The Department of Science and Technology (DST) National Research Foundation (NRF) Centres of Excellence Annual Directors’ Forum, held at UKZN’s Howard College campus, highlighted the impact of research conducted by 15 CoE’s and showcased projects through interactive exhibitions.

Over 100 leading scientists and researchers attended the forum and engaged with learners and post-doctoral students from Higher Education Institutions in KwaZulu-Natal.

Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology, Dr Phil Mjwara, who is responsible for policy development in the science and technology sector in South Africa, delivered the keynote address at the forum.

In his address Mjwara looked at how science contributes to the development of the country. ‘There is a link between science, technology and innovation on the one hand, and socio-economic development,’ said Mjwara.

Mjwara also emphasised the need to fast-track the transformation agenda.

UKZN’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, said: ‘This is a wonderful occasion for the science system in South Africa where the best of the best get together to share ideas, thoughts and experiences … It’s really important that science flies the flag of the ambitions of the nation we aspire to be.’

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Director of CAPRISA and the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in HIV Prevention, said that the CoE ‘is a global leader at the forefront of AIDS research.  It conducts cutting-edge research and innovation, focusing on the development of new HIV prevention technologies, especially for young women in Africa - a high-risk population that is considered by UNAIDS to be the highest priority to reach the international goal of ending AIDS’.

Deputy CEO of the NRF, Dr Gansen Pillay said: ‘Given the current economic climate, the CoEs should now, more than ever before, also strive to become socially, environmentally and economically sustainable, hence the subject of sustainability has informed this year’s theme of Future Sustainability of CoEs: Perspectives and Possibilities.’

Panel discussions centered on “Building a Sustainable Future for CoE’s” and “Beyond 2019: Options and Possibilities for CoE’s”.

Hundreds of KwaZulu-Natal learners were treated to interactive, multidisciplinary exhibitions at the CoE Forum where three jubilant learners won iPads sponsored by CAPRISA.

DST Deputy Director-General Dr Thomas Auf der Heyde told learners that science unites people as it ‘builds bridges between cultures and countries.’ He said this was essential in dealing with global challenges like climate change, ‘where nations must work together to find sustainable solutions’.

A Grade 11 learner at Nkosinathi High School in Inanda, Ms Nelisiwe Mnyandu, was thrilled with the ‘fun and interesting’ displays at the exhibition. With her curiosity in science spiked, Mnyandu said she had learned remarkable facts about the flights of eagles!

The DST-NRF Centres of Excellence Annual Directors’ forum was hosted by UKZN, the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), DST and the National Research Foundation (NRF).


author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Music Lecturer is one of the 2016 eThekwini Living Legends

UKZN Music Lecturer is one of the 2016 eThekwini Living Legends
Dr Sazi Dlamini.

UKZN Music Lecturer Dr Sazi Dlamini was recently recognised as one of eThekwini’s Living Legends at the 9th eThekwini Living Legends Awards held at the ICC in Durban.

Congratulating the awardees, eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede said: ‘the award recognises eThekwini citizens who have dedicated their time and skills to uplift the communities they come from and have contributed to developing society at large.’ eThekwini City Manager Sibusiso Sithole added: ‘They are agents of change in our communities who have made a contribution to the continued growth and success of African people.’

Dlamini is a composer, performer and ethno-musicologist who is celebrated for his many Afro-township and African jazz compositions and performance collaborations for dance and theatre productions, feature films, documentaries and TV.

He is also well known for making and playing indigenous Nguni instruments such as bows, drums and flutes and various other African musical instruments. Dlamini is a versatile performer and mediator across a regional diversity of musical performance, with a long-standing involvement in the creative contextualisation of indigenous, popular and formal music performance across cultures and genres of music.

‘Being recognised for such a prestigious award is indeed an honour,’ he said.  ‘I am truly humbled by this and to share the award with other deserving living legends is amazing. I am in awe of the calibre of awardees, both past and present, and the award is an achievement that I am proud of.’

Dlamini is passionate about the role of performance in music education and social transformation and is an advocate for the preservation and promotion of indigenous KZN music such as maskandi, mbaqanga, isicathamiya and children’s musical performance.

‘It is important to look beyond the boundaries and to embrace and celebrate the diversity and beauty of culture,’ said Dlamini. ‘This award not only recognises all that we have done for our communities but it highlights that we are all human beings trying to make the world a better place through nation building, social change and performance art.’

He further highlighted the urgency to develop and harness digital and new media technologies for the preservation and easy access to both contemporary and historical musical research data. Hence, he is currently involved in leading research initiatives for the recording and processing of music archival resources at UKZN where he lectures in Music History and Culture.

Acting Dean and Head of UKZN’s School of Arts Professor Donal McCracken added: ‘The creative and performing arts at UKZN are really special, and the news that Dr Sazi Dlamini of our Music section has been named as one of our city’s Living Legends confirms this. He follows such UKZN notables as Professor Malegapuru Makgoba and Professor Himansu Baijnath in receiving this municipal honour. Dr Dlamini is an accomplished musician and ethno-musicologist who has actively advanced the cultural and historical study of African music in South Africa. We are very proud of him.’

Dlamini shares the Living Legends award with Minister of Science and Technology Mrs Naledi Pandor, SA politician Mac Maharaj, founder of the Gift of the Givers Foundation Dr Imtiaz Sooliman, liberation activist Alzina Zondi, champion boxer Obed Gumede, musician Tu Nokwe, founder at 1000 Hills Community Helpers Dawn Leppan, photographer Cedric Nunn, former Military General Vejay Ramlakan and artist Professor Kate Wells.

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN is one of 16 Universities Selected to Receive Research and Teaching Equipment through Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access Programme

UKZN is one of 16 Universities Selected to Receive Research and Teaching Equipment through Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access Programme
Seen with Dr Nina Dudnik at UKZN is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Acting): Research, Professor Salim Abdool Karim and Professor Thavi Govender.

Spearheading groundbreaking research is the norm for UKZN’s Catalysis and Peptide Research Unit (CPRU).  To assist the unit to achieve this on an ongoing basis, the US-based NGO Seeding Labs recently delivered a 20-foot (6 metre) container with 3 tons of lab equipment and supplies to support teaching and research. UKZN is one of 16 universities selected to receive research and teaching equipment through Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access programme.

The Instrumental Access equipment will help the CPRU to accelerate drug discovery research projects, and increase research opportunities for students in the pharmaceutical sciences at UKZN. The equipment will mainly be housed in a laboratory with stringent safety requirements where research on the discovery of novel antibiotics for carbapenem resistance is conducted.

Professor Thavi Govender, one of the co-founders of the CPRU and Principal Investigator of many of its projects, commented on the delivery: ‘Antibiotic resistance is increasing globally. The world is rapidly reaching a situation similar to the pre-antibiotic era where widely used antibiotics are becoming useless in treating everyday infections.  Hence, there is an urgent need to develop new drugs to target drug resistant pathogens.  New hot-topic research areas are like speed trains leaving a station, if a researcher is not on board from the beginning then it’s tough to catch up.  This equipment will enable UKZN to set up routine testing for all researchers across the country who want to submit compounds for evaluation. We are truly grateful to have been selected for this contribution.’

Seeding Labs is a Boston-based nonprofit organisation that catalyzes scientific progress in the developing world by equipping scientists with the tools, training, and connections they need to be at the cutting-edge of global discovery. Working with corporate and academic partners, Seeding Labs has provided more than $3.7 million in surplus lab equipment and training programs to scientists at 42 universities and research institutions in 26 countries since 2003. Seeding Labs is supported by USAID’s Global Development Lab and was named one of Fast Company magazine’s top 10 most innovative not-for-profit companies in 2015.

Dr Nina Dudnik, Seeding Labs’ founder and CEO said, ‘Despite the abundance of scientific talent around the world, lack of equipment is a simple but widespread barrier that can prevent talent from being expressed at its fullest. We are excited that our partnership with UKZN will expand education opportunities for hundreds of students and accelerate ongoing drug discovery research on drug-resistant infectious diseases like HIV and TB.’

author : MaryAnn Francis
author email : francism@ukzn.ac.za

JOMBA! Showcases Stellar Performances at KZNSA Gallery

JOMBA! Showcases Stellar Performances at KZNSA Gallery
Some of the JOMBA! performances at the KZNSA Gallery.

JOMBA! 2016 recently presented three breath-taking site-specific performances at the KZNSA Gallery. Artistic director for the festival and UKZN’s Performing Arts lecturer Ms Lliane Loots said, ‘The gallery space offers an alternate kind of challenge to dance makers and for artists who work outside of the traditions of the proscenium arch.’

France’s Ex Nihilo continued their exploitation of everyday open space with a dance performance work called “Calle Obrapia #4”.

Next, one of India’s most controversial contemporary dance makers, Ms Preethi Athreya, also contributed a piece.  Moving away from the classism and over-romanticism of tradition, Athreya created a solo that explored the reframing of notions of classism and beauty by presenting the dancing body as an image of itself. Her solo, “Across, not Over” was created for, and performed by, Kathak dancer Mr Vikram Iyengar.

The performance engaged with the fragmentation of the body in an essentially sensorial way. The work drew out the minuscule details of movement to re-present them in newly-assembled poetics. It presented a grammar for the body that allowed for the vulnerability of the dancer to rise to the surface.

The work is a result of a dialogue between two classically-trained dancers from two very different forms of dance. Athreya’s background in bharatanatyam and subsequent body of choreographic work within the contemporary genre met up with the very personal concerns of the performer Iyengar and his deep and continuing relationship with the Kathak form.

In the end, it was a tender and evocative meeting of two dance talents and two dance styles; bharatanatyam and Kathak. 

The event was rounded off with a new work by Loots, who partnered again with spoken word maestro Mr Iain Ewok Robinson, Durban’s Kathak expert Mr Manesh Maharaj, filmmaker Ms Karen Logan, and the Flatfoot dancers. Loots created “MIGRATIONS (at the feet of Kali)” for the main gallery space.

This is the second part of Loots’s newest trilogy that looks at issues of “home”. The work can be viewed independently or in the context of the first part “HOMELAND (security)” which was performed in April 2016 by the Flatfoot Dance Company.

‘It is an “in situ” physical journey into the heart of colonial and post-colonial rememberings around the movements and/or migrations of people. Using personal memory as the starting point, this work interfaces with the convergence of Indian and South African histories.  It tackled some challenging notions around issues that stirred some controversy,’ explained Loots.

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’s Golf Day raises over R300 000 for Student Scholarships

UKZN’s Golf Day raises over R300 000 for Student Scholarships
Scholarship winners pictured with Dr Albert van Jaarsveld.



The golfing fraternity, corporate sponsors, UKZN alumni, staff, students and friends of the University took to the Zimbali Golf Course on 31 August 2016 for a round of golf and to award scholarships to eight deserving students.

Over R300 000 was raised this year, a significant increase on the R115 000 raised in 2015. Standard Bank, the main sponsor, donated a whopping R180 000 towards the scholarships for academically deserving students who are unable to afford their tuition fees. Bidvest was the second highest sponsor at R54 000.

Executive Director of Corporate Relations, Mr Lesiba Seshoka, said this year that the beneficiaries of the funds are students who fall into the ‘Missing Middle’ category.  ‘These are the students who are deemed to be too rich to qualify for financial support, but are financially needy,’ said Seshoka.

‘The plight of the Missing Middle students came to the fore at the start of what is now popularly known as the #FeesMustFall campaign,’ he said. ‘In raising funds for the bursaries for these students, we hope that it reduces some of the burden they face.’

Seshoka acknowledged and thanked the donors for changing the lives of these students for the better, and encouraged the students to keep working hard.

Head of Corporate Sales at Standard Bank and UKZN alumnus, Mr Themba Rikhotso, reaffirmed Standard Bank’s commitment to this worthy cause and emphasised the role that everyone should play in addressing the funding of student fees. Standard Bank has been the primary sponsor of UKZN’s Golf Day for seven years running, and has donated an additional “once-off” R100 000 towards the cause this year.

Speaking on behalf of the students who received bursaries at the event, fourth-year LLB student Mr Ntokozo Mbeje focused on education, universities and opportunities and thanked those who had ‘banked on them, making something of themselves’ and for ‘investing in our future so we can someday in the future pay it forward’.

He thanked Standard Bank for the new accounts (with no bank fees for a year) and for the personal bankers they had been provided with, and quipped that he had called his current bank, saying: ‘Hey Steve … I’m leaving you. I’ve found greener pastures, and I’m #MovingForward and if you guys don’t change your ways, then you are gonna get a hashtag BankFeesMustFall!’

Health Sciences student and scholarship recipient Mr Vusi Mgoboza said: ‘My plan for the future is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon or neurosurgeon.  If I can’t do that, I will become a Medical officer in a rural area, preferably near home, where I can make a difference.’

Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Albert van Jaarsveld thanked all those who had made the Golf Day initiative a success.

This year’s sponsors included: Standard Bank, Bidvest Bank, Investec, Shepstone & Wylie, DALRO, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Magic Pan Caterers, Tsogo Sun, Deloitte, Eduloan, Focus Project Management, Nashua Communications (Pty) Ltd and Sanlam.

Corporate Relations’ Shakila Thakurpersad and the Golf Day Committee were acknowledged for their efforts in putting the event together and for fundraising for the scholarships.

The Golf Day initiative, started by UKZN Corporate Relations thirteen years ago, has raised over 1 million Rand during its existence and has provided nearly 100 students with financial assistance.



author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer and Sejal Desai
author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za

Umhlangano Wokucobelelana Ngolwazi KwezoLwazi Lwendabuko NeZindlela ZoCwaningo

Click here for the English version

Umnyango WezeSayensi NezobuChwepheshe – Isizinda SezoCwaningo SikaZwelonke eNyuvesi YaKwazulu-Natali ngokubambisana namaNyuvesi aseLimpopo, Venda, Ningizimu Afrika neyaseNyakatho-Ntshonalanga babambe umhlangano wokucobelelana ngolwazi ozothatha izinsuku ezimbili omayelana Nolwazi Lwendabuko Nezindlela ZoCwaningo ekhempasini yase-Westville kuncwaba 2016.

Ohola ezoCwaningo kwezoLwazi Lwendabuko uSolwazi Hassan Kaya uthe inhloso yalomhlangano wezinsuku ezimbili bekuwukulekelela abafundi abaneziqu kwezolwazi lwendabuko nabaluleki babo ukuba babe nokuqonda okufanayo ngezolwazi lwendabuko, izindlela zokwazi, izindlela zocwaningo nezinhlelo zezimisompilo.

UKaya ugcizelele ukuthi yize kubalulekile ukuphokophelela ubungcweti nokudingeka, uma kunokungqubuzana phakathi kwalokhu kokubili, ukudingeka yikho okuhamba phambili. 

Izihloko zabafundi zocwaningo zethulwe emhlanganweni zaphinde zadingidwa ngaphansi komhlahlandlela wezolwazi nezindlela zocwaningo. USolwazi Muxe Nkondo we-Freedom Park Trust ugcizelele ukubaluleka kolwazi lwendabuko entuthukweni eqhubekayo nokuhlalisana ngobumbano.

USolwazi Naftali Mollel, waseNyuvesi Yase-Limpopo utshele abafundi ukuthi ukulalela kuyikhono elibaluleke kakhulu kubacwaningi. Ugcizelele nokubaluleka kokuqiniswa kobudlelwane phakathi kosozimboni, imiphakathi nezifundiswa ukuze kuqagulwe izihibe ezikhona phakathi kwezokufunda nokuphila.

UDkt Mayashree Chinsamy wasesizindeni sezolwazi lwendabuko ubalule ukuthi abafundi abanemifundaze yesisinda kwezolwazi lwendabuko ‘bayizingqalabutho ngoba babhekene nezinselelo zocwaningo kulo mkhakha osemusha’.

USolwazi MA Masoga, waseNyuvesi YaseVenda uhlole ezolwazi kwezolwazi lwendabuko kanti uSolwazi S Shava (eNyuvesi YaseNingizimu Afrika) ubhekisise ezolwazi lwendabuko kwezocwaningo nezemfundo.

Abebehambele umhlangano bawuncome kakhulu ngokubagqugquzela ukuba bagxile kakhulu ocwaningweni lwabo. U-Ruth Olusanya, owenza iziqu ze-PhD, ocwaninga ngesitshalo i-moringa (i-Moringa oleifera) njengokudla okuya ngokuthola udumo, uthe: ‘Lo mhlangano ungivule amehlo mayelana nokuthi lumayelana nani ngempela ulwazi lwendabuko.’

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Music Student Awarded Choreomundus Scholarship

UKZN Music Student Awarded Choreomundus Scholarship
Mr Lindani Phumlomo, recipient of the prestigious Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage Scholarship.

A music student in the African Music and Dance (AMD) programme, Mr Lindani Phumlomo, was recently awarded the prestigious Choreomundus: International Master in Dance Knowledge, Practice and Heritage Scholarship.

Choreomundus is an Erasmus Mundus programme that investigates dance and other movement systems (ritual practices, martial arts, games and physical theatre) as intangible cultural heritage. It is offered by a consortium of four universities in Norway, France, Hungary and the UK recognised for their leadership in the development of innovative curricula for the analysis of dance. 

‘Getting this scholarship is a dream come true. I will now be able to advance the knowledge I have gained in the performing arts industry and be able to compete at an international level academically as well as practically,’ said Phumlomo.

He believes that the scholarship will allow for the theoretical side of his performances to be sharpened and will enable him to participate in the world of arts performance in a more creative and innovative way.

Phumlomo’s love for dance began when he joined the KwaMashu Community Advancement Project (K-cap) in his hometown KwaMashu. K-cap taught him how to play various musical instruments, as well as to act and dance. He trained for four years and became a key member of the touring group Alive Kidz, formed by Mr E.Q Mhlongo, the founder and artistic director of Ekhaya Multi Arts centre.

With K-cap, he travelled to more than 25 countries.  This impacted positively on how he viewed African Music and Dance (AMD).  Phumlomo then decided to study AMD under the leadership and direction of UKZN’s Dr Patricia Opondo.

During his undergraduate studies, he received seven certificates of merit in AMD modules. In his final semester, he presented the strongest AMD exit recital with a programme that highlighted his mastery in four traditional African instruments, for which he choreographed two original pieces. 

In 2015, Phumlomo was the recipient of the prestigious SAMRO bursary, and in the same year he opened at the 10th anniversary of UKZN’s African Cultural Calabash festival. At the beginning of 2016, he was appointed to the practical staff to teach Ngoma dance. Phumlomo successfully led an Ngoma dance workshop during a short exchange programme with students visiting from Brigham Young University in the USA in April this year.

‘Through studying, I was exposed to different kinds of instruments and dances from around Africa. It was exciting and I fell in love with it and my passion for it has continued to grow. I love my Zulu tradition and I am very proud of my heritage. I want to add value to the Zulu culture and tradition by being an African Music and Dance keeper,’ he said.

Phumlomo believes that scholarships of this nature are important because they broaden students’ thinking and their ways of seeing things. ‘I came to UKZN as an uneducated performer and now I am prepared to take on all the tough challenges that come my way. I will continue going forward.’

His Lecturer and mentor Dr Opondo added, ‘Lindani is a student of distinction and I believe this opportunity will further grow his talents. I anticipate a very successful career for Lindani and trust that his international profile will continue to grow. Congratulations and best wishes to him.’

He has already departed for Norway on a three-week orientation programme before spending 12 months in Norway, then to France mid-March for a two-week intensive dance analysis, six months in Hungary and six months in London where he will graduate at the Roehampton University in July 2018.

author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

Developing Entrepreneurship in Africa a priority for UKZN Academic

Developing Entrepreneurship in Africa a priority for UKZN Academic
Ms Lindiwe Kunene with Mr Maka Tounkara (left) and Mr Chewe Mulenga both from Zambia.

School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic Ms Lindiwe Kunene recently formed part of a delegation of young African entrepreneurs, researchers and government officials who participated in the Africa Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya.

The workshop, organised by Japan’s United Nations University in collaboration with the Kenyan government and the African Development Bank, was part of the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

The forum was themed: “Catalysing the Next Generation of Africa’s Youth Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Industrialisation.” It focused on promoting sustainable industrialisation in Africa.  Workshop participants contributed to an entrepreneurship capacity-building programme for Africa’s sustainable industrialisation by drawing up a possible road map for its development and implementation.

Kunene described being part of the workshop as intense, but she is grateful to get the opportunity to be part of a strategy formulation, in collaboration with young entrepreneurs across Africa.

‘It was wonderful to be part of a group of people who are doing phenomenal things.  The people chosen were young researchers from all over Africa - including a young gentleman from Esikhawini,’ she said.

Kunene added that she is proud to have represented UKZN at such an important gathering, which comes at a time when the African continent is experiencing rapid socio-economic growth.

‘The outcomes of the strategy formulation were presented to leadership at TICAD and we have laid out a plan of action going forward. I am glad my UKZN is going to be part of this journey, it will not be easy but we must try, this is our Africa!’ she said.

author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

CCRRI Lecture Focuses on Black Women in Higher Education

CCRRI Lecture Focuses on Black Women in Higher Education
Dr Zamambo Mkhize.

UKZN’s Centre for Critical Research on Race and Identity (CCRRI) within the School of Social Sciences recently hosted a lecture by Dr Zamambo Mkhize, where she discussed the intersection of race and gender for Black women in Higher Education and professional degrees through a comparative study of the experiences of African-American women in America and Black-African women at UKZN. 

Mkhize noted that Black women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields continue to be grossly under-represented, causing these fields then to be male-dominated fields.  Black women are viewed as living at a cultural crossroads by virtue of their coexisting membership to a marginal and an elite group, therefore forming an outlier group.

‘On one hand, lingering effects of apartheid policies have resulted in the continued marginalisation of Black women. On the other hand, globalisation and the transformation project for Higher Education in South Africa have simultaneously placed them in a unique position of power in society,’ she said.

Mkhize believes that African-American women as well as Black-African women continue to be subjected to overt and covert racism and even subject to sexism from their respective societies.

‘Black people, especially women, face hostility when entering traditional male and White-dominated domains, which discourages them from entering and developing in these organisations. Research has found in the United States, Black women were passed over for promotions because of their gender and in South Africa women are passed over for promotions because of their gender and race.’

‘Black-American women are an outlier group because they do not have race to uplift them nor do they have gender to empower them therefore they are doubly oppressed.  Black-African women are triply oppressed facing sexism, racism and culturalism, so Black-African women are an outlier within an outlier, and highlighting this distinction and finding ways to address it would be progressive,’ said Mkhize.

She further offered possible solutions to counter these problems by highlighting the critical need to improve conditions of engineering learning environments and creating safe spaces for minorities to reflect on their negative experiences, practice self-care and develop scientific identity.

Mkhize believes that creating an environment that supports retention, mentoring for all faculties, programmes to promote retention and programmes specifically designed to facilitate PhD completion will prepare Black students for careers as professors or professionals in STEM fields/disciplines.

‘The creation of cohorts that focus on counselling Black students and especially Black women who face specific issues, which are different to Black men and White women is vital.  Affirmative action is in place but it is not enough because the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action have been White women not Black women.  So that issue needs to be addressed and explored further.  The reasons and adequate solutions should be sought,’ said Mkhize.

* Dr Zamambo Mkhize is a Post-Doctoral Fellow on the Education and Emancipation Project at the CCRRI. Her research focus has been on modern polygyny within the Zulu culture of South Africa.



author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

St Charles College takes Gold at the Mondi-WESSA Enviro-Quiz

St Charles College takes Gold at the Mondi-WESSA Enviro-Quiz
St Charles College won the 2016 Mondi-WESSA environmental quiz, hosted by UKZN’s Dr Gueguim Kana.

In a thrilling neck-and-neck finish, St Charles College edged out defending champions, Deutsche Schule Hermannsburg, to take gold at the annual Mondi-WESSA Inter-school Enviro- Quiz held at the University of KwaZulu-Natal on 5 August 2016.

The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) is actively involved in the promotion of environmental awareness amongst school pupils. Dr Gueguim Kana from UKZN’s Discipline of Microbiology opened the function with a warm welcome and inspired the contestants with his well-wishes.

This year, teams from all over South Africa competed in the finals of this prestigious inter-school environmental competition.  Travelling from as far afield as Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, as well as Gauteng, the Eastern Cape and various parts of KZN, competitors enjoyed a fun-filled yet challenging evening of questions, with the audience getting involved as well. 

As in previous years the Enviro-Quiz included questions on insects, larger animals, birds, the marine environment and indigenous knowledge.  General knowledge questions ensured that teams had to have a well-rounded background to Planet Earth’s life-supporting eco-systems including fresh water, air, food and biodiversity. 

After the quiz, teams visited WESSA’s Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve near Howick.  Adventure activities such as rock-climbing, field-work studies and bird-watching enabled new knowledge to be gained and friendships to be made. 

‘It is a privilege for UKZN to host this important event, that nurtures South Africa’s next generation of passionate environmentalists,’ said Kana.

author : Joelle Penniston
author email : Pennistonj@ukzn.ac.za

GSB&L Academic a Panellist at Women Economic Empowerment Summit

GSB&L Academic a Panellist at Women Economic Empowerment Summit
Ms Xioliswa Majola.

“Creating necessary capacity and skills among women entrepreneurs and executives to build the economy of the future” was the title of Graduate School of Business and Leadership’s (GSB&L) academic and PhD candidate, Ms Xoliswa Majozi at the recent Women Economic Empowerment Summit.

Under the theme: “Placing women economic empowerment at the epicenter of the radical economic transformation agenda-the tasks of social partners in the attainment of this objective” the Summit hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) created a platform for women to engage and contribute to inclusive socio- economic transformation.

Through her talk titled: “Creating the necessary capacity and skills among women entrepreneurs and executives to build the economy of the future”, Majola shared insights on capacity building and skills development.

‘The poverty line in South Africa is among those who have less or no education. The audience had a majority of those entrepreneurs and the talk had to benefit both and also offer insight from an academic perspective,’ she said.

‘The seminar had a number of informal traders and they really need the skills we have. The challenges facing small entrepreneurs is often related to lack of skills. Somehow there is a gap where the people with passion of entrepreneurship do not benefit fully from those. This then calls for awareness programmes about the opportunities offered by different stakeholders in their local areas,’ she added.

Majola is one of the benefiters of the partnership between GSB&L and EDTEA as she graduated with her Masters in Commerce through the Local Economic Development (LED) an area that she is currently lecturing in. When she switches roles from being a teacher to a student, Majola’s PhD focus is on information sharing in LED.

‘My study aims to develop a conceptual model for management information system in local economic development practice in KZN. One of the challenges in LED implementations is due to lack of information. While information is critical for planning, policy making, strategy development and decision making.  It is my responsibility to keep updated in all aspects in social issues, political issues and general livelihoods for everyone. This helps when you are given the opportunity like the one I got to be able to speak with confidence because you are well informed,’ she said.

author : Thandiwe Jumo
author email : jumo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN’s FoMSF host “Girl Talk"

UKZN’s  FoMSF host “Girl Talk
UKZN Students at “Girl Talk”.

UKZN’s Friends of Médecins Sans Frontirés (FoMSF) recently hosted a “Girl Talk” initiative in the Welbedacht community, which provided valuable knowledge to empower young women to have self-confidence as well as to make safe choices with regards to sexuality and pregnancy.

Attended by approximately 140 young ladies, aged between 12 and 20, the initiative formed part of the National FoMSF Women’s Month campaign which provided a platform for young women to speak freely with the hope that it will ultimately result in change for the better.

On arrival, the ladies were asked to write anonymous questions to be answered during the programme and were given a bookmark to write an inspiring quote for another woman.

Speakers covered a range of topics.  These included “Living with HIV”, where Researcher and Social Worker Ms Delarise Mulqueeny shared her personal experience and inspired the young girls to persevere in life despite the challenges they encounter along the way.

Another topic was presented by Ms Nqobile Joyful Hlongwane from the Jes Foord Foundation.  She shared Jes Foord’s personal story of rape and survival. She educated the girls on the appropriate channels for dealing with rape, self-care after rape and how to preserve the evidence, as well as the use and whereabouts of rape centres.

Ms Sarah Donkin from SubzPads’ Project Dignity spoke about menstruation and personal hygiene. She also touched on personal choices and how to avoid peer pressure, as well as self-confidence when dealing with issues around sex.

Ms Eloise Francis spoke about teenage pregnancy and affirmed the ladies by encouraging them to understand that they are loved and treasured.

The presentations were followed by an interactive session where the girls engaged with the guest speakers and volunteers to address the previously-written anonymous personal questions. These covered various relevant topics such as sex, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, grief and bereavement.

The event ended with the handing out of the bookmarks with inspiring messages and gift hampers containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, pack of pads, face soap and oil to each lady. The event was sponsored by Sparkport Pharmacy, the DuMarc cosmetic company, Moosa’s Discount Warehouse, Food for Life and the Naicker family.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN hosts the 2016 KZN Taekwondo Championships

UKZN hosts the 2016 KZN Taekwondo Championships
UKZN Taekwondo Club scooped awards at the championships held in Durban.

UKZN’s Howard College campus was the setting for the 2016 KwaZulu-Natal Taekwondo Championships which saw UKZN Taekwondo fundis battling it out against clubs from Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, the University of Zululand, Taekwon-Bolt Taekwondo and the Ballito Martial Arts Academy.

The Executive Chairperson of UKZN’s Taekwondo Club, Mr Michael Ntuli, said the event included Sparring (fighting) and Kyokpa (breaking) competitions and games. The UKZN Taekwondo members scooped eight medals, including two Gold, four Silver and two Bronze medals. The team was also awarded the Best Team-Work Trophy!

Ntuli, an alumnus of UKZN who graduated in 2016 with Honours in Community and Development Studies, commended UKZN Taekwondo Instructor, Master Billy Lukusa Mwana, and the Head Instructor of KZN Taekwondo, Master Bonggyun Yun, who played integral roles in the success of the sporting event.

Ntuli said the benefits of doing Taekwondo included physical health and fitness, self-discipline, mind-control and the ability to learn self-defence.

The event was sponsored by the Korean Embassy, the South African Taekwondo Federation (SATF), the Taekwondo Promotion Foundation, Kukkiwon (the world Taekwondo Headquarters) and the World Taekwondo Federation. The Korean Ambassador, the Korean Embassy, UKZN’s Student Services Division and Health and Sport’s Mr Mark Bashe were also acknowledged for their support.

To find out how you can join the Club, check them out on Facebook: UKZN Taekwondo Club or contact Michael Ntuli at mduets@gmail.com

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za

Education Academic Presents at Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Conference

Education Academic Presents at Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices Conference
Delegates at the 11th International Conference on Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices held at Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England.

Senior Lecturer in the School of Education, Dr Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan recently presented two papers at the 11th International Conference on Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices held at Herstmonceux Castle, East Sussex, England.

The theme for the 2016 conference was: “Enacting self-study as methodology for professional inquiry” and it was organised by the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices (S-STEP) Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). S-STEP is one of the largest special interest groups of AERA.

‘Since 1996, members of the international self-study research community have met every two years for a conference at the Queen’s University International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle,’ said Dr Pithouse-Morgan.

Continuing, she said, ‘Twice as many conference proposals were submitted than were finally accepted. Each paper was blind peer-reviewed in a rigorous two-step peer-review process. Papers were presented by self-study researchers from Australia, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (USA).’

Dr Pithouse-Morgan’s papers were co-authored with self-study researchers from Agnes Scott College (USA), the Durban University of Technology, George Mason University (USA), Montclair State University (USA), and Walter Sisulu University. The papers explored methodological inventiveness in self-study research through the arts-based methods of drawing, dance and poetry.

The co-authored papers further illustrated how scholarly conversations across specialisations, institutions, and continents can generate transformative possibilities for university educators and leaders imagining pedagogies and collaboration in new ways.

Dr Pithouse-Morgan is the current lead investigator of the South African Transformative Education/al Studies (TES) project, which aims to develop self-study research capacity in a transdisciplinary, multi-institutional professional learning community.

She is lead editor of two books on transdisciplinary self-study research: Making Connections: Self-Study & Social Action (Pithouse, Mitchell, & Moletsane, 2009) and Polyvocal Professional Learning through Self-Study Research (Pithouse-Morgan & Samaras, 2015). She served as secretary of the S-STEP SIG of the AERA for 2012-2014 and is the convenor of the Self-Reflexive Research Methodologies SIG of the South African Educational Research Association (SAERA).

The collective wisdom offered by the conference papers can be accessed online at http://tinyurl.com/zgosg5x.


author : Melissa Mungroo
author email : mungroo@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Academics highlight the Dangers of Skin Bleaching

UKZN Academics highlight the Dangers of Skin Bleaching
March against Skin Bleaching.

UKZN’s College of Health Sciences’ Dermatology Department, together with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health (DoH), took to the streets of Durban to highlight the dangers of illegal skin bleaching.

Head of the Dermatology Department, Professor Ncoza Dlova, along with DoH’s Dr Jimmy Mthethwa led an awareness march that also aimed to encourage particularly young people to love and embrace their natural skin colour.

The Department, together with UKZN and other stakeholders, marched from the Berea Christian Centre to Gugu Dlamini Park to launch a campaign to create awareness about the dangers of using illegal skin bleaching products.

Dlova said through research they had found that 90% of consumers of skin lightening products are not aware of the side effects of skin bleaching.

‘We are saying to the Department of Health that education and empowerment of consumers is crucial, and we need to start including basic education about skin and hair care from an early age in primary schools and high schools.  We are appealing to the police and Department of Trade and Industry to take action and enforce the current existing legislation and rules on the sale of cosmetics, and make sure that our borders are not porous.  Some of these illegal creams should not come into the country,’ she said.

DoH’s Mthethwa said the Department wants to ‘stop the epidemic which is fast becoming a burden on public health.’

KZN DoH members and other guest speakers, including affected patients, gave their testimonies.  They addressed hundreds of health professionals, students and members of the public at the park.

The march was also intended to make people aware of the list of banned ingredients such as mercury, cortico steroids, phenols and hydroquinone that are found in over-the-counter cosmetic products.

Dlova said there were numerous psycho-socio-political factors in play when people used skin-lighteners.  They resulted in people resorting to treatments which often have irreversible complications.  

‘There’s a perception that if you are lighter, then you are more attractive and your chances of getting married or getting a job are higher. Amongst the Indian community there is an obsession with being lighter and this is well documented in the literature and our own research experience. There is still a caste system and colour bias when it comes to finding a marriage partner. So all these perceptions should be dispelled,’ she said. 

According to Dlova, there’s been an increase in the number of people using skin lightening treatments in the last five to seven years. 

‘The issue of intravenous glutathione for skin whitening is even more scary,’ she said.  ‘Steps are being taken to address this with the regulatory bodies in an attempt to ban the use of this compound in South Africa.  If we do not translate our research results to the consumers to change practice and policy as well as inform the public, it becomes a challenge, as consumers do not have access to the scientific journals which we publish in,’ said Dlova.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Celebrates National Science Week

UKZN Celebrates National Science Week
From left: ‘Dr T’ demonstrates the principles of fire, whilst a Kingsway High School learner tests for the presence of carbohydrates and proteins in UKZN’s biochemistry labs during National Science Week 2016.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) celebrated National Science Week 2016 in style this year. 

Firstly, local school pupils enjoyed access to a fun-filled week of scientific activities run by the Science and Technology Education Centre (STEC@UKZN) on the Westville campus.  Staff went the extra mile to keep the 200 Grade 10 and Grade 11 pupils wowed by the whole spectrum of scientific wonders available at UKZN.

Accommodating some 70 learners a day, the programme offered an array of hands-on fun that covered scientific disciplines such as Electrical Engineering, Statistics, Computer Science, Biochemistry, Microbiology, Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Geology.

For phase two of the week’s campaign, the College organised the highly successful Great UKZN Science Show-Off, aimed at the whole family.  This science show saw the famous ‘Dr G’ - aka Dr Megan Govender; ‘Dr T’ – aka Tanja Reinhardt and Mr Ajay Bissessur battle it out on the scientific stage.  Their scientific tricks, treats, whooshes and bangs kept the audience amused and amazed.

Ever wanted to make a fire tornado?  Or a volcano?  Or stab a straw through a potato?  Or find out just how smelly chemicals can be?  The three scientists made sure that they offered something for everyone as they brought the magic of science to life.

National Science Week is celebrated every year during the first week of August. A Department of Science and Technology initiative, run in partnership with public and private institutions, it aims to further the public’s understanding of science and to advance science and technology within South Africa.

author : Sally Frost
author email : frosts@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Students provide OT to all

UKZN Students provide OT to all
OT Clinic.

UKZN College of Health Sciences (CHS) final year Occupational therapy (OT) students provide OT services as part of their community engagement at the Centre for Occupational Performance and Research’s (COPAR) Paediatric Clinic based on UKZN’s Westville Campus. The clinic is run by OT 4th-year students as part of their paediatric block.

The 4th years are divided into groups throughout the year to ensure that there is a paediatric block each term at the clinic to allow for carry-over of treatment with the children.

The OT department’s Ms Lauren Hepworth said that the main treatment takes place once a week.  Students often treat children diagnosed with learning difficulties, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory processing difficulties and epilepsy, who are all experiencing scholastic problems.

‘The clinic is open to any child who is not already receiving OT elsewhere and there are waiting lists for both assessments and treatment,’ she said.  Assessments take place on a Friday morning and if a child requires occupational therapy services, they are placed on the waiting list.

As a result of a new service implemented by Ms Lauren Hepworth in 2016, the students also screen children from children’s homes in the area, in order to identify problems that may have been missed. Once the students have screened the children identified by the social workers at various children’s homes, the reports are evaluated and the children who require occupational therapy are asked to come back for treatment either every alternate week or once a month.

The clinic also offers its services to KZN Children’s Hospital (the old Addington Children’s Hospital) as it currently has no employed OT. ‘The hospital is government run and thus we are offering this service for free. This assists families who require occupational therapy and are able to come to the clinic,’ said Ms Hepworth.

Every alternate week, the students also visit a special school in the area, called Pathways, in order to be exposed to diagnoses such as cerebral palsy and autism. Lauren said that Pathways exposes students to more paediatric conditions and helps increase awareness while also providing an OT service on a more regular basis, as there is only a consultant OT at the school. The students also participate in a sharing of knowledge with the staff to ensure both staff members and students can handle the children effectively.

author : Nombuso Dlamini
author email : dlaminin10@ukzn.ac.za

Mpumalanga’s UKZN Alumni Network in White River

Mpumalanga’s UKZN Alumni Network in White River
UKZN Corporate Relations staff members with Mpumalanga based alumni.

A group of 50 UKZN alumni from all over Mpumalanga met on 20 August 2016 for a lunch and information-sharing presentation at the Magnolia Restaurant in White River.

The group thoroughly enjoyed meeting each other socially, swopping stories of their University experiences and exchanging contact details. The University appreciates the attendance and commitment of these alumni on the day, as many had to travel for a number of hours to attend the event.

The graduates were welcomed by Ms Normah Zondo (Director of University Relations) who also introduced the Guest Speakers. The Guest Speakers were Mr Fanle Sibisi (President of Convocation) and Mr Lesiba Seshoka (Executive Director of Corporate Relations). Both Mr Sibisi and Mr Seshoka encouraged the attendees to “give back” to their alma mater. 

Mr Seshoka gave a comprehensive overview of the current developments at the University, as well as information on student numbers, current rankings and research. Questions were posed to the speakers – many regarding the registration and funding procedures for post-graduate studies at the University.

All attendees requested that the Alumni Relations Office co-ordinate a similar event in the not too distant future.

author : Finn Christensen
author email : christensenf@ukzn.ac.za

UKZN Alumnus Receives Top Instrumental Music Scholarship

UKZN Alumnus Receives Top Instrumental Music Scholarship
Mr Linda Sikhakhane.

Former UKZN student and graduate, Mr Linda Sikhakhane, recently won the Overseas Scholarship 2016 offered by the  South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO).

‘I feel really honoured to have been given this opportunity to pursue my dream,’ Sikhakhane said.

Sikhakhane is a saxophonist and composer from the Umlazi Township, South of Durban. His love for music began when he was just 15 years old with Mrs V Rajmoney from Clairwood Boys Primary School as his first ever musical teacher and he has worked hard all his life towards becoming a qualified musician. He graduated with a Diploma in Jazz/Pop Music.

‘Being a UKZN music graduate, I’m really privileged to have been their product. I feel they have played a really big role in shaping my musicianship and I hope they carry on with what they are doing because it is so special.’

He has previously been awarded numerous bursaries from SAMRO, the National Arts Council and the Leeds Youth Big Band, an indication of his talent. He has given back to his community by offering music lessons at the Siyakhula Music Centre in Umlazi where his real love for music was established, and Hill View Primary School.

The SAMRO Overseas Scholarship is worth R200 000 and allows him to study at an international institution of his choice.

‘I would love to study or get master classes in USA. I believe that the US has got so much to offer in terms of the jazz culture because its heritage in jazz is high voltage and it’s always best to go to the source.’

His future plans include travelling the world showcasing his music and interacting with musicians in order to grow musically.

‘I wish to stay humble as much as possible and purify myself so that I can receive as much music from God in order to express myself through it.’

Sikhakhane expressed great gratitude to his mentors and various institutions that helped him shape his music career.

author : Reatlehile Karabo Moeti
author email : moetir@ukzn.ac.za

Horticulture PhD Candidate Wins Best Poster at All-Africa Horticultural Congress

Horticulture PhD Candidate Wins Best Poster at All-Africa Horticultural Congress
Mr Ola Olarewaju with his award-winning poster.

PhD candidate in the Discipline of Horticultural Science in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Mr Ola Olarewaju, recently travelled to the All-Africa Horticultural Congress in Nigeria, where his poster received the Best Poster award.

Olarewaju, undertaking his PhD under the supervision of Dr Lembe Magwaza and Dr Samson Tesfay, is working on the identification of pre-symptomatic bio-markers and non-destructive prediction of physiological rind disorders of citrus fruit. According to Olarewaju, this research could assist the citrus industry in the management of postharvest losses by sending fruit with longer threshold of rind disorder to international markets and fruit with shorter threshold of rind disorder to local markets.

In the long run, this will increase the amount of produce available to consumers and increase financial gain for growers.

Taken from this research, Olarewaju’s poster at the Congress was entitled “A comparative analysis of postharvest rind colour and antioxidant composition of ‘Marsh’ grapefruit harvested from different canopy positions of the tree”. With regard to attending the Congress, Olarewaju said it was an opportunity to meet with like-minded scientists to discuss issues surrounding horticulture for improved livelihoods.

As a result of his poster’s selection as the winning poster, Olarewaju received an award from the International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS), including the publication of his profile in the prestigious ISHS Chronica Horticulturae magazine with a readership of 7 000.

‘Winning the award is a wake-up call for me to work more diligently, smartly and intelligently, as the citrus industry needs more applicable scientific results,’ said Olarewaju.

author : Christine Cuénod
author email : cuenod@ukzn.ac.za

A colloquium on ‘Womanhood’ from Diverse Cultural and Religious Backgrounds in eThekwini

A colloquium on ‘Womanhood’ from Diverse Cultural and Religious Backgrounds in eThekwini
Participants at the IKS colloquium hosted at UKZN’s IKS Conference centre on the Westville campus.

As part of Women’s Month celebrations in August, a colloquium on ‘Womanhood from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds’ was hosted by the Department of Science and Technology-National Research Foundation Centre in Indigenous Knowledge Systems (DST-NRF IKS) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The Director of the DST-NRF IKS Centre, Professor Hassan Kaya, indicated that the colloquium was hosted in order to interrogate diverse cultures and religious backgrounds, to address ‘social problems in eThekwini such as HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancy, sexual violence, drug abuse, access to education and employment.’ 

Kaya said that women from diverse cultures and religious backgrounds have attempted through family and other social roles to impart norms and values within and across generations to enrich the livelihood of those around them.  ‘In spite of these efforts the modern pressures of globalisation through mass media and peer pressure have brought new and complex challenges to womanhood, especially among the young generations,’ said Kaya.

The colloquium, which was attended by pupils from Apollo Secondary School in Chatsworth, featured presentations demonstrating Hindu, Christian, Muslim and Zulu rites of passage.

Mrs Kantharuby Munsamy, a renowned Indian classical dancer, looked at the roles women have played from ancient Vedic times to the present.  Munsamy said women are the ‘builders of the nation’ as they ‘make noble citizens’ by rearing their children.

Ms Shafeeah Manga explained Muslim ceremonies and rites of passage and explained various Islamic practices, including the relevance of women dressing modestly.

Mrs Sindiswe Mzila revealed that in Zulu culture, a woman represents her family, ‘wherever she goes’. Mzila emphasised the importance of tradition and the importance of ‘building a home based on Zulu cultural values’. She explained various ceremonies, ranging from puberty to lobola negotiations, as part of the rites of passage.

Dr Mayashree Chinsamy, from the IKS Centre, stated that the colloquium sought to ‘develop multicultural targeted programmes to address social ills very close to home, such as HIV and AIDS, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, access to education. In addition, the forum aims to promote social cohesion through culturally relevant mechanisms while building capacity among all generations of women.’

She said: I maintain that all that I am, have and hope to be, I owe to my Amma,’ (Hindu term for mother).

Kaya said the interaction at the colloquium revealed that ‘we live together in SA but we don’t know one another.’ He said ‘we have more similarities than differences’ and that ‘diversity is part of cultural enrichment.’

IKS plans to host events in the future, geared towards unifying and enriching cultures and hence promoting social cohesion. In closing, Dr Ngcobo from the Moses Kotane Institute thanked all the participants, as well as Dr Chinsamy and Ms Zodwa Masinga as organisers of the colloquium.  Special thanks was extended to Ms Masinga who translated the presentations from English to isiZulu and vice-versa.

author : Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
author email : captainr@ukzn.ac.za